hairy creatures of God


By the early 1930s, Klara Zetkin was suffering from the heart problems from which she would soon die. In the meantime, she needed injections of camphor to raise her blood pressure. On the occasion of one such injection, the nurse administering the stimulant began to prepare her left buttock. Zetkin instructed the nurse to find another site on her body. ‘That one’, she said, ‘belongs to Dr Zamkov’.

In the midst of the foi furieuse of the Stakhanovite period, when everything was being made anew at extraordinary speed (and with massive disruption), the government of the USSR felt keenly the lack of trained specialist in all areas of work. So in an address to metal workers, Stalin observes:

People must be cultivated as tenderly and carefully as a gardener cultivates a favourite fruit tree.

A slightly different image of the man who is charged with callously slaughtering millions, drooling while doing so. A little later, in an address to graduates from the Red Army training centre, he tells this famous story to illustrate his point:

I recall an incident in Siberia, where I lived at one time in exile. It was in the spring, at the time of the spring floods. About thirty men went to the river to pull out timber which had been carried away by the vast, swollen river. Towards evening they returned to the village, but with one comrade missing. When asked where the thirtieth man was, they replied indifferently that the thirtieth man had “remained there.” To my question, “How do you mean, remained there?” they replied with the same indifference, “Why ask – drowned, of course.” And thereupon one of them began to hurry away, saying, “I’ve got to go and water the mare.” When I reproached them with having more concern for animals than for men, one of them said, amid the general approval of the rest : “Why should we be concerned about men? We can always make men. But a mare … just try and make a mare.” (Animation.) Here you have a case, not very significant perhaps, but very characteristic. It seems to me that the indifference of certain of our leaders to people, to cadres, their inability to value people, is a survival of that strange attitude of man to man displayed in the episode in far off Siberia that I have just related.

Works, vol. 14, pp. 48, 77-78.

Stalin unknown 10 (Siberia) (320x236)

Most people would probably not know that the Communist Party of the USSR (Bolshevik) also had a policy on amputation. Stalin elaborates on the policy in 1925:

We are against amputation. We are against the policy of amputation. That does not mean that leaders will be permitted with impunity to give themselves airs and ride roughshod over the Party. No, excuse us from that. There will be no obeisances to leaders. (Voices: “Quite right!” Applause.) We stand for unity, we are against amputation. The policy of amputation is abhorrent to us. (Works, volume 7, p. 401)

I have just met one of the descendants of Confucius. Kong Zi’s great-great-great … grandson is Kong Xianglin, and he spoke today on the old man himself at the World Confucius Forum, held here in Adelaide. I held forth on Confucius and Mao Zedong, but I also managed to get a photo Kong Xiangling and myself. It is for the next post, but here is Kong himself.

Kong

Add a beard and long whiskers and he could be a spitting image:

Kongzi

Given the interest in an earlier picture of me on a tropical throne, I thought I would add a few to fill out the scene. It is not so often that one takes a camera to the toilet, but then this is no ordinary affair.

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My only regret is not having the camera with me on the occasion when I was joined by some others. First, a horse meandered over, became curious, walked towards me and then looked directly at me from about a metre away. We began a conversation about many things (I will not elaborate here). As we were conversing, a chicken came around the corner, stopped and cocked its head while looking at me. Close behind the chicken came another horse, and it too stopped close by and joined the audience.

This evening at my Chinese class we were discussing once again the various ‘measure words’ used when speaking of different objects. These words typically go in between a number and the object being numbered. To make things even more puzzling for someone learning the language, the specific ‘measure word’ used changes depending on the category of the object being numbered. For instance, different measure words are used for things with wheels, pieces out of a collection, long and winding things – obviously quite logical.

The one I like is zhāng (张), which is for flat things, such as tickets, maps, pieces of paper, and so. So ‘a photograph’ is yī zhāng zhàopiàn (一张照片), literally ‘one [flat] photograph’.

My question for the teacher was: ‘what if I run over a cat and it becomes quite flat?’

Would I then say yī zhāng māo (一张猫), literally ‘one flat cat’?

This would be instead of the usual ‘measure word’ if the cat were more rounded and still active, yī zhǐ māo (一只猫).

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Another travel story at Voyages on the Left, called ‘Stalin, the Priest and the Donkeys‘. Meanwhile, I am writing a longer piece on Stalin and anti-Semitism (from Losurdo).

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